Australian Open SF: (7) Angelique Kerber vs Johanna Konta
Two first tine semi-finalists at the Australian Open will collide for a place in their first ever Grand Slam final on Thursday afternoon when Angelique Kerber comes up against Johanna Konta on Rod Laver Arena. Both Kerber and Konta have exceeded expectations this week and now have an amazing opportunity to reach a Grand Slam final, a potentially life changing moment for both.
Angelique Kerber’s Australian Open campaign could have easily been very different, the German survived a match point in a tight opening round match against Misaki Doi. Angie dug deep in that match to pull through in three sets and hasn’t conceded a set since. The German has recorded straight set victories over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Brengle, Annika Beck and finally Victoria Azarenka.
Angie’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she recorded her first ever career victory over Victoria Azarenka in her seventh attempt with a 6-3 7-5 victory. It was a superb performance by Angie, hitting 31 winners to just 16 unforced errors. It was arguably one of the greatest victories of Angie’s career, certainly one of the most significant given her recent poor record in Grand Slams and her poor record against Azarenka. Angie now has the greatest opportunity of her career thus far to reach a Grand Slam Final when she takes on Johanna Konta on Thursday, a match she will enter as a strong favourite. It will be interesting to see how Angie recovers both physically and mentally after such a massive victory.
Prior to this event, Johanna Konta had only ever advanced past the first round at a Grand Slam on two occasions and had never actually played a main draw match at the Australian Open. Now Johanna is the first British woman since 1983 to reach a Grand Slam final, an unbelievable achievement. Konta’s route to the final four hasn’t been easy, The Brit started the week with a significant victory over Venus Williams in straight sets before recording convincing straight set wins over Saisai Zheng and Denisa Allertova.
Konta’s toughest moment of the event to date came at the fourth round stage where she showed awesome determination to come from a set down to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 4-6 6-4 8-6 in an epic. Konta’s ability to remain composed under pressure was a real positive here, especially against such a high quality opponent. Konta backed up her gruelling victory over Makarova by convincingly defeating Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang to advance to her first ever Grand Slam semi-final. Konta will need to step up her level if she is to get the better of Kerber in their first career meeting.
This will be first ever career meeting between Angie and Johanna, the stakes couldn’t be much higher. This is undoubtedly the biggest match of each player’s career; both are just one win away from reaching their first career Grand Slam title. I’m assuming this will be a good match-up for Angie, the German will surely be too solid for the Brit. Konta is reasonably powerful and has a good serve but her weapons are unlikely to trouble Angie. Conversely, Angie’s relentless defensive skills and vastly superior experience should give her the clear edge on this occasion.
Obviously, nerves will also be a big factor in this match. This match means so much to both and both have questionable records under pressure. However, Angie again has the edge her because she has won numerous matches under extreme pressure and on a big stage.